AUG 99] THE CHAMBER PRESS RELEASE
Chamber Joins Call For Family Friendly Cash Aid
The Chamber is calling for the Government to give financial help to
small businesses to introduce new parental leave proposals.
The call follows the announcement by Trade and Industry
Secretary Stephen Byers, setting out plans to give parents 13 weeks of unpaid leave during
the first five years of a child's life.
The proposals are due to become law later this year.
Chamber President Peter Howden, fears that unless the
Government introduces compensation along the same lines as existing rules for maternity
pay, many small businesses will either not be able to comply or may have to scrap other
non-statutory benefits that they currently provide.
He is also concerned that the new rule may actively deter
employers from taking on young women and people with young families.
The call follows a survey by the Chamber which revealed
that although most companies take a positive view of family friendly policies, they are
worried by the cost implications of arranging temporary cover for key members of staff.
The Chamber survey showed that 75 per cent of Coventry
firms intend to develop family friendly policies and that 35 per cent already allow
fathers an average of 9.81 days leave for the birth of their child and 88 per cent give
time off for family emergencies.
However, more than half of those companies surveyed said
they could not cover the loss of a key member of staff for more than two weeks at a time
and 68 per cent are opposed to parents taking the statutory leave in one three-month
Mr Howden said:
"Most companies want to develop family friendly
policies and working environments and many employers already offer benefits beyond the
unpaid arrangements this new directive will introduce.
"However, without recompense for the additional
burdens that firms will face as a result of this directive, many of these extra,
non-statutory, benefits may be lost. Economies of scale mean that those firms employing
fewer than 50 people are likely to be hardest hit by the changes.
"We are urging the Government to limit the potentially
damaging impact these new regulations could have. We are therefore fully behind calls for
the Government to compensate small firms for temporary cover, along the same lines as the
existing rules of maternity pay which allow, for example, qualifying firms to reclaim 105
per cent of the costs."
MORE INFORMATION: Dan Carter 01203 654326